In our last blog post “The Implications of Public School Privatization,” I referred to an article by Diane Ravitch that recently appeared in The New York Review of Books. That article claimed that the school privatization movement is largely composed of social conservatives, corporations, and business-friendly foundations. In a recent article by Janet Reitman, in Rolling Stone, “Betsy DeVos’ Holy War,” the author argues that the movement to privatize public schools is also sponsored, at least in part, by those who, like Betsy DeVos, would prefer to de-secularize schools and create institutions that reflect market friendly Christian values.
Betsy DeVos, embodies a nexus of wealth and hyper conservative Christianity. Her goals include support of “school choice” (i.e., voucher systems that direct tax money for public schools toward private and parochial schools) and, according to Reitman, the promotion of the religious colonization of public education, and more broadly, American society. (See also, “Betsy DeVos Wants to Use America’s Schools to Build ‘God’s Kingdom’” Kristina Rizga, Mar/Apr 2017 Issue, Mother Jones.
DeVos, as is well documented, is not deeply acquainted with public education—neither she nor her children attended public schools; she has never served on a school board, nor been an educator. DeVos who hails from a wealthy, Calvinist, Western Michigan dynasty that includes among other resources, her husband’s multi-billion dollar Amway fortune, and her father’s auto parts fortune (among other profitable ventures, her father, Edgar Prince, invented the lighted, automobile sun visor) now finds herself at the helm of the federal Department of Education. She appears to be even less a friend of public education than she is familiar with it. DeVos has devoted a substantial part of her political and philanthropic career to advocating for the privatization of public schools, and her home sate of Michigan has the highest number of for-profit charter schools in the nation. To learn more about DeVos’ plans for public schools in America, you can read this intriguing article “Betsy DeVos’ Holy War,” The resources below offer additional insights into Secretary DeVos and her plans for public schools.
“Six astonishing things Betsy DeVos said — and refused to say — at her confirmation hearing” Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, January 18, 2016
“Education for Sale?” Linda Darling Hammond The Nation, March 27, 2017
“Betsy DeVos: Fighter for kids or destroyer of public schools?” Lori Higgins, Kathleen Gray, November 23, 2016, Detroit Free Press.
“The Betsy DeVos Hearing Was an Insult to Democracy” Charles Pierce, Esquire
“Betsy DeVos Wants to Use America’s Schools to Build ‘God’s Kingdom’” Kristina Rizga, Mar/Apr 2017 Issue, Mother Jones
“Why are Republicans so cruel to the poor? Paul Ryan’s profound hypocrisy stands for a deeper problem” Chauncey DeVega, March 23, 2017